Monday, 17 October 2016

In Memory : Jim Gordon's birding life

Jim Gordon  in 1984

In 2012 RSPB Liverpool celebrated it's 40th Anniversary, and over the years our membership has seen people come, go and return....  Recently we were reminded of our past when a new member Neil Gordon told us of his father's lifelong  interest in birds and his past connection to RSPB Liverpool. Sadly Neil's father died recently, but in his memory we asked  Neil to  put together a small  piece on his time with our group. 

Neil and his family have bequeathed  Jim's  funeral collection  to our group funds, for this we wish to offer  a huge thanks for this most thoughtful and  generous donation.  

Neil Writes -

Jim’s love of birds began at an early age. As a young boy he would wander the farmlands of Norris Green.  With no field guides or books at home, Jim was one of the generations of self taught birders’, his only source of information being a “borrowed” school book on common birds.

Family life took over for Jim and it wasn’t until his children grew that he began to fall in love with his childhood hobby again.  Living in Fazakerley he would spend hours watching Redpoll and Bullfinch in Fazakerley woods finding the occasional good bird like Long Eared Owls and would come home excitedly  telling all the family of his great finds. 
The big breaking point in his birding life came when he bought his first car, a VW Beetle and he was soon to be found at Seaforth, Lunt, Hale, Frodsham and Marshside.

Jim joined the local RSPB Liverpool group in the early eighties and spent many great days out with the group enjoying the meetings as he loved to learn and soon realised the other birders in the group were happy to pass on their knowledge.  Jim and his family spent many happy trips to the Solway with RSPB Liverpool led by Ted Richards and even ventured abroad for the first time to Majorca on a group holiday. His appetite for scarcer birds had now been lit by the group.

What followed for Jim were many happy late summer holidays to Norfolk, ticking off birds he had only dreamt of seeing whilst reading his bird books at night. The one major trip he always longed for was a two week birding holiday on the Scillys’, which he and his family enjoyed in ’84.
Jim loved to travel to see rare birds, from the Little Whimbrel in Norfolk to the White Billed Diver in Northern Scotland. If he could get there it was game on.

When Jim retired from bus driving after 30 years, it was back to local birding, with his favourite patch being Seaforth Docks.  As Jim’s health began to decline and he stopped driving, it was down to park and garden birding with the occasional twitch if he could get a lift off someone.  His love of birds, common or rare, never faded and is last day in the field was to see a male smew at Lunt this year. He came home that day tired and sore but with a broad grin on his face.

Birding full circle for my dad over the space of 70 plus years’ with lots of memories of good friends and great days out.

Jim Gordon
18/03/1936 – 12/09/2016

Thank you Neil

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Ringing the reedlings – another successful year for special birds at RSPB Leighton Moss

Autumn is certainly on its way and at RSPB Leighton Moss nature reserve in Silverdale, that means some of its most secretive residents – the bearded reedlings, are coming out of hiding, offering visitors a greater chance of spotting these elusive birds.

Leighton Moss is the largest reedbed in North West England, home to rare and special wildlife. Bearded reedlings, also known as bearded tits, are very uncommon and rely on this special environment to live in. They first began breeding at the reserve in 1973 and their numbers have been closely monitored by dedicated staff and volunteers ever since. 

Earlier this year, following stormy weather that flooded the reserve, it was feared the bearded reedling population may have declined. However, through ringing studies, where young birds have colour coded leg rings fitted, staff at the nature reserve have found that it has been another good year for these secretive birds.

Kevin Kelly, Visitor Operations Manager at RSPB Leighton Moss and Morecambe Bay nature reserve said:  “We have caught or seen nine adult males and ten adult females so far this summer, as well as fitted colour rings to 22 baby birds and nine other young bearded tits. This shows that there have  been plenty of successful breeding attempts despite the challenging weather conditions last winter.”
Kevin added: “Autumn is the best time of year to come and see these iconic reedbed residents, as they venture out onto special grit trays. We put the trays out for them to stock up on grit which helps them digest reed seeds – their main food source during the cold winter months.”
Visitors can look for bearded reedlings at Leighton Moss any day in October  but for the best chance to see these rare birds feeding on the grit trays, take a walk down the Causeway between 9.30 am-12 pm. 

Vis Mig at Hale 09/10/16

Sun's up. Runcorn/Widnes bridge in distance

Church lane watchers
It was a beautiful morning on Sunday at Hale for our visible migration field trip.
Highlight for me was the Merlin, tree sparrows, redwings and flappy fieldfare, looovve our scandinavian visitors. 

Sunday 9 October 2016

Counting period: 07:25 - 09:30
Count type: incomplete species list, not all species submitted
Weather: wind NE1, cloud-cover 3/8, visibility 25m, temperature 9 ℃, Sunny , cool NE wind F1,
 3/cloud slowly decreasing cloud cover through watch
Observers: Jeff Clarke, Chris Tynan plus RSPB group

Pink-footed Goose *
Coal Tit *
House Martin
Song Thrush
Mistle Thrush
Tree Sparrow
Grey Wagtail
alba wagtail sp.
Meadow Pipit
Hawfinch *
Lesser Redpoll
Reed Bunting

Totals: 6245 individuals, 26 species, 2:05 hours

Bold = Remarkable observation (scarce or rare species or large number)
* = Additional info (on mouseover species)

Comments: Probably significant undercount on passerines due to large group presence impeding call reception.
All migrants vectored south or south-east unless otherwise stated.

Count Website

Hale lighthouse

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Prepare for an awesome autumn spectacle on the Dee Estuary

Inline image

As summer draws to a close, the Dee Estuary enters arguably its most exciting time of year due to the arrival of vast flocks of birds returning from their Arctic breeding grounds. The RSPB is inviting visitors to take part in a series of events across their Dee Estuary nature reserve to share some of the most impressive natural spectacles in this region.

Dan Trotman, Visitor Experience Manager for RSPB Dee Estuary nature reservesaid: “I’m a huge fan of autumn, it could even be my favourite season of the year. The reserve here comes into its own, supporting thousands of wetland birds as they swap the cold Arctic for our warmer climes. High tides around the equinox make for some excellent wildlife watching too, pushing the vast swathes of ducks and wading birds into closer view along with the birds of prey that hunt them.”
The Dee Estuary is home to the largest little egret colony in Northern England and, with earlier sunsets which are another special autumn attraction on the Wirral, it becomes easier to witness the daily spectacle of over 300 flying in from the marsh to their night-time roost.  To celebrate this wild wonder, ‘An Evening with Egrets’ guided walk is taking place on Saturday 8 October at RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands. The event costs £6.50 per person (£5 for RSPB members), half price for children. Booking is essential by phoning 0151 353 8478 or email

Visitors can also take part in ‘Autumn Arrivals’ on Saturday 15 October at RSPB Point of Ayr near Talacre. This short guided walk involves crossing beach and sand dunes so suitable footwear and a decent level of fitness are required. The event is free of charge, but donations are welcome. Booking is essential by phoning 0151 353 8478 or email

To experience the autumn tidal phenomenon, join ‘Parkgate High Tide Watch’ events on Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 October at the Donkey Stand and the Old Baths car park on Parkgate parade. Suitable for people of all ages and abilities, these events are free of charge, but donations are welcome. RSPB staff and volunteers will be on hand with telescopes and binoculars to enhance the impressive views. Timings vary depending on the tides, so visit for more details.
Inline image

Dan added: “You don’t have to be an avid birdwatcher to appreciate the vast numbers of birds that call the Dee their home at this time of year. These upcoming events are planned to showcase these awesome natural occurances and show why it’s so important for the RSPB to keep almost half of the estuary under its protection. So pop on an extra layer or two, and come along, we’d love to see you!”
For further information on events and wildlife at RSPB Dee Estuary, visit

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Help children in Liverpool discover the wonder of nature

RSPB seeks volunteers to help with schools nature project

The RSPB is calling on nature lovers to help inspire children about wildlife as part of an ambitious schools nature project in Liverpool.

Funded by the sale of single use plastic carrier bags by ALDI, the RSPB’s Connecting Children with Nature project enables children in 15 cities across the UK to experience and explore nature first-hand by running sessions in their school grounds.

In the first few months of the project in Liverpool, the RSPB has already helped to introduce 600 local primary school children to the delights of the natural world and is planning on inspiring many more young minds in the coming year.

To achieve this, the RSPB needs to expand its existing team of excellent schools outreach volunteers in Liverpool.

Stephanie Hepworth, Schools Outreach Officer for Liverpool, explains: “We are looking for people with a passion for nature who can take children aged 5-12 outdoors and show them the brilliant birds, bugs and flowers that thrive outside their classroom window.

“We believe that connecting with nature should be a part of every child’s life. There’s loads of scientific evidence, which shows that getting outdoors and engaging with nature can have a wide range of benefits for children including improved physical and mental health, and even increased academic performance. It’s also great fun and can lead to a lifelong love and appreciation for everything that chirps, snuffles, buzzes and flutters.

“If you think you’ve got the skills to communicate your love of nature to children and can inspire them to cherish wildlife, then we’d love to hear from you.”

People interested in volunteering for the Connecting with Nature project in Liverpool should contact Stephanie Hepworth on 07841804793 or at

Monday, 5 September 2016

RSPB nature reserve gets a facelift at 30

Progression of inner marsh farm -Alisdiar Grubb

This month marks five years since RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands opened its doors, but parts of the land managed by the wildlife conservation charity have now entered their fourth decade as a nature reserve and have just undergone some home improvements.

The origins of the reserve date back to 1986 when the RSPB bought the flooded crop fields of Inner Marsh Farm in Burton. Five years of planning and hard work saw three freshwater lagoons created and then a hide was built in 1992, to bring the public closer to the great variety of birds that call the Dee estuary home. However, after years of natural change, the wetland had silted up in places and now major improvement work has provided a much needed rejuvenation of the old pools.
Colin Wells, Site Manager at RSPB Dee Estuary nature reserve said: “I’d not long moved to this reserve when the RSPB bought Inner Marsh Farm. I was responsible for creating the wetland which is now home to internationally important numbers of ducks, geese and wading birds, along with a whole host of other wonderful wildlife.”

In recent years however, despite regular ongoing management through mowing and sheep grazing, time had taken its toll and the pools were silting up, with rushes and reeds starting to dominate the water. This meant they were less suitable for the birds which were becoming further away from the hide, making it more difficult for visitors to view them. The RSPB decided more drastic work was needed, so set about a project to dredge the pools and remove the layers of silt and vegetation that had established over the years.

Colin added: “Before the diggers had even finished the work, there were various wading birds taking advantage of the newly exposed mud to find food. This bodes well for the weeks ahead as the reserve is a vital rest stop for wading birds on autumn migration from other parts of Europe.”
This desilting work is the first part of a series of improvements to the Inner Marsh Farm area of the RSPB reserve; the site team are hoping to change from sheep grazing to cattle later this year, with a view to tackling the tough rushes and restoring the area to a rich wet grassland. This along with the installation of an electric predator exclusion fence will make it ideal for nesting wading birds.
In addition, the RSPB are currently embarking on a project to fund the replacement of the aging hide, and upgrade the accessibility of the path, bringing the whole site up to the high standard of Burton Mere Wetlands.
For more information on the important work carried out at the reserve as well as upcoming events, visit

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Inglorious day update. Now write to your MP

Not so happy inglorious 12th day , god help anything that flies over our Moors 😭😠😡

On Sunday 7/08/16 a few of us (could you have gone? next year- if it happens?) went to the Hen Harrier day at Dunsop Bridge determined to add our voices against the wilful and criminal act of raptor persecution(any wild things that get in the way). 
After the uplifting rally led by Terry Pickford from Raptor politics (including a visit from the Grim reaper who came for a grouse shooter-  
We had a picnic on the Duke of Westminster's grouse moor. 

RSPB NEWS 18/08/16 : Elwood - First tagged hen harrier of 2016 goes missing.
If this is important you 

Where do you live? make sure your voice is heard. Sign,pass it on
and write to you MP*;) winking (Template below to help)   

WALTON                      88
WAVERTREE                  140 
RIVERSIDE                  234
GARSTON & HALEWOOD         166 
KNOWSLEY                   112    
BOOTLE                     138
SEFTON CENTRAL             154 
HALTON                     123
ST HELENS NTH              124
WEST LANCS                 177 



Our e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting achieved 100,000 signatures on the morning of 13 August. It is still open for signature until 20 September but the emphasis now passes, for me at least, to the parliamentary debate which should ensue.

I will hear on the evening of 6  September or morning of 7 September whether we have been given a debate (we should be) and the date of that debate (it will be after 9 October and will be a Monday afternoon).

Please do ask your friends to sign the e-petition but there is something else that you can do - and that is to write to your MP.

Here are some words you could use to write to your MP about a hoped-for debate on driven grouse shooting.

This link will help you find your MP and their email address or postal address, provided you know their name or the name of the constituency in which you live.  You should only write to your own MP. Many MPs have their own websites with online forms that ask you for your details – they are quite easy to use.  If you simply email your MP then you should include your name and address to confirm that you are a constituent of theirs.
You should get an acknowledgement of your email pretty quickly – it may simply be an automated response at this stage – that’s fine.

I would be very grateful if you would let me know that you have contacted your MP by emailing me at with your name, the name of your MP, the name of your constituency. When you get a substantial reply from your MP I would be grateful if you would let me know. If you use the template below then I would be grateful if you would let me know whether your MP says he/she will try to attend any debate, whether she/he intends to speak, and any indication of the line they might take.

The more emails that are sent the better. Please don’t assume that someone else will do it so you don’t have to – they may be thinking the same.  Please do let me know that you have done this – I will be keen to help you with any ensuing correspondence on this subject – you aren’t alone in this.  If you have never emailed or written to your MP before – don’t be afraid, they are all too human.

Dear [name of your MP]
I am a constituent of yours and I signed the e-petition on the parliament website entitled Ban Driven Grouse Shooting That e-petition has passed 100,000 signatures and therefore is expected to receive a debate in Westminster Hall some time later than 9 October.  In our constituency of [name of constituency] XXX people have supported this petition. [You can look up the number by using this link].
I hope that when the date of the debate is determined you will be able to attend the debate – would it be your intention to do so?
I hope that when the debate occurs you might feel able to represent my views in that debate. I want to see driven grouse shooting banned/stronger regulation of driven grouse shooting/changes in the way our hills are managed [select one of these or use your own words]. Do you think you would be able to speak on that subject?
I would be grateful for your response and the opportunity to brief you on the subject if you are planning to attend the debate.

Yours sincerely
Your name
and address if you haven’t already given it.

Go on - send that email please!

There is another petition on a related subject, this time directed at the Scottish parliament. It has over 5000 signatures and closes on Monday. this petition asks for proper regulation of gamebird shooting in Scotland and is supported by the RSPB and Scottish Raptor Study Groups. Please add your name to this petition - particularly if you live in Scotland.

Please use the power you have as a citizen to call on decision-makers to make the right decisions.

best wishes
Mark Avery